Zombie themed stories often take place according to a timeline. There are only a few variations on this, but more often than not they take place following the patterns that we have decided to use to categorize media here in the guide for easier browsing (if you’re a hardcore zombie fan, that is)
Before the Outbreak– These stories take place at the very beginning where we can get a peek of what life is like in that universe before the sh*t hits the fan. Fear the Walkingdead is the best example of this category on television.
During the Outbreak – These stories take place in the middle of things we are thrown in the the middle of the zombie pandemic at the peak without any pretense. The Walking Dead, for example, or even the original Night of the Living Dead.
After the Apocalypse – Most zombie outbreaks ARE the end of the world. In fact, it’s rare for humanity to recover completely. However, sometimes civilization can find a way to handle the hordes of the undead like in Fido or Warm Bodies.
This category applies to use of zombies in media specifically, as zombie products are as timeless as the never-rotting corpses they’re made after.
Whether it’s for Halloween, a zombie-themed birthday party, or just to show the world just how zombically inclined you are all year round, here are ten great door treatments or accessories that make that message loud and clear – as clear as a deep groan and a wet chewing sound from the other side o the entrance…
Knock knock (or scratch-scrach, groan-groan, scrabble-scrabble) … who’s there? If it’s not a zombie, maybe it’s somebody who loves ‘em as much as you. 18”x30”, 100% natural coir fiber, with a rubber backing. Chances are you’ll have the only undead doormat in the neighborhood.
This could work for a front door or more permanently a bedroom door, especially for the disaffected and would-be both 14-year-old we all were at some time or another (or still are). 65”x33½”, washable plastic, with blood handprints, smears, and text all in a lovely sanguine crimson.
Hey, what’s that at your fee-- AHH! Yes: a 4.8”x3.2”x6” doorstop that will hold the door open and allow the walking dead to stroll right in. Idiot. And we particularly like the intestines gushing out the back.
Not some little paper toy! A real, live (or undead) sign! 6”x18”, a crisp, clear image on a matte finish with pre-cut mounting hles for hanging, printed iun durable fade-proof inks that are sun (and bite!)-resistant!
It’s not a decoration, it’s a public service! Come the zompoc, the 8”x12” tin sign will tell the world you’re one of the last safe places… then you can choose who to let in! Good for your door, your office, or over your wet bar.
Actually, this should have been part of our Zombie-Themed Bathroom collection, but there’s always something new to add… and this is it! Catch your shambler at his most embarrassing moment and tell any house- or party-guests where the facilities are hiding.
On July 3, 1984, at the Uneeda Medical Supply warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky, foreman Frank Johnson tried to impress his new employee Freddy by showing him some ancient storage drums from the U.S. military filled with toxic gas called Trioxin. Unfortunately, he accidentally leaked some of the gas, and it founds it way to some nearby corpses (?), causing the spawning of a whole new generation of stupid, semi-fast zombies – the real zombies, not the ‘fake’ ones from George Romero’s movie – with a small but useful vocabulary and a taste for brains.
Yes, it’s true: July 3, 2023 is the 39th anniversary of the ‘historical event’ that led to a whole string of ‘funny zombie’ action thrillers, beginning with the surprisingly entertaining Return of the Living Dead (1985) and stumbling, inevitably, into a string of increasingly unsuccessful and inconsistent sequels.
Return was directed by Dan O’Bannon, who by that point had directed only one other film, but had been involved, one way or another, in everything from Dark Star to Alien to Star Wars to Blue Thunder. He went on to great work as a writer and/or director on projects ranging from Lifeforce to Invaders From Mars to Total Recall to Screamers, Bleeders, and Alien vs. Predator, until his death in 2009. But this was his big break. And the movie is crowded with classic character actors of the day as well, including James Karan and Clu Gulager – two middle-aged men whose faces you’ll recognize the instant you see them (and Gulager’s son went on to be a horror director of some merit himself.)
The plot here is thin as the skin on a walker: toxic gas is accidentally released, converting some nearby corpses into zombies who, in turn, can convert the living with a bite or scratch. Hilarity ensues, at least for a few hours, until Louisville is overrun. Then, on the Fourth of July 1984, the military ‘solves’ the problem by destroying the city with a nuclear bomb… which, in fact, just makes matters worse, as the end-credit “ending” implies. Damn that pesky radioactive toxic rain!
How did all this come to be? Well, after a lengthy and too-boring-to-bother-discussing legal battle, the co-creators of the original Night of the Living Dead – George A. Romero and John Russo – finally came to an agreement that Romero could go make his own zombie movies and use the term “Dead” in the titles (and, as it happened, times of day) without any legal hassles from Russo. Russo, on the other hand, could make zombie movies with the term “Living Dead” and not get hassled by Romero. They had entirely different ‘takes’ on the creatures, as you can see from the various “Dead” vs “Living Dead” movies that ensued, and after a small but persistent rash of “Living Dead” films, the Russo line faded away in 2005. The first sequel, Return of the Living Dead Part II, showed up in 1988, and changed the rules about killing this version of zombies (electrocution works? Cool!). Return of the Living Dead III (1993) was produced and directed by Brian Yuzna, who’d done great work on the Re-Animator series. It goes more serious and goth-metal-punky, but it bombed big-time at the box office.
There are a variety of other movies with “Living Dead” in the title during and after this set, as Russo gradually lost control (or interest?) in the brand – Flight, Day, Age, Virgin, Hell, City – but none are connected to this timeline and none are, frankly, worth the time. John Russo himself is still with us; he'll celebrate his 84th birthday in September.
There is, however, a pretty damn good documentary about the making of the first film, More Brains: Return to the Living Dead, with interviews from tons of people and some pretty amusing anecdotes.
Today, Return (the first one, only the first one!) is still pretty damned amusing and has a legit place in zom-culture history. For one thing, this is one of the first times that we get a “scientific” explanation for the walking dead. The original NotLD made a two-sentence pass at maybe saying it was radiation or a satellite or somethin’, then retreated in “Dead” sequels to the religious/supernatural raison d’etre:
“When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth.”
But in Return and its sequels, it was clearly a toxic gas that caused it. Good ol’ Trioxin. Since then, toxic waste or industrial accidents in general has become a mainstay in ‘scientific zombie' movies, whether it’s gas or waste products or bad food, or even a downed satellite. The viral alternative, a la 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead, would come even later. But here’s where “it’s bad science, and it’s the government’s fault” began.
Additionally, the now-often quoted (often to a ridiculous degree) desire of speaking zombies yearning for, “Brains! Brains!” started with Return. Apparently, the brain-parts make the unendurable pain of reanimation slightly less… unendurable? Whatever: the hunger endures, and so does the quote.
For these reasons alone, 1985’s Return of the Living Dead deserves a spot on the “essentials” shelf of any zombie aficionado. Not the best zombie movie you’ll ever see, and certainly not the best thing O’Bannon ever came up with, but.. a keeper.
Left 4 Dead, released in 2008 by Valve, the same company that created the popular ‘Half-Life’ series, defined the ‘zombie horror FPS’ genre and is still being played on dedicated servers by adoring players.
Ah, I think back to those summer nights of playing this game on my PC until dawn with my friends and competitively comparing headshot scores and accuracy at the end.
Left 4 Dead plays like you are the survivors in a more about the zombie outbreak. You have four different characters to choose from for co-op player vs. environment on or offline multiplayer. Characters do not have special stats, but they interact with eachother in an amusing way throughout the campaigns- each set in Philadelphia.
Left 4 Dead introduces some unique concepts to the game, such as interacting with the environment in a detrimental way or a beneficial way – being able to shoot barrels of gasoline to start fires or slinging missed shots at parked cars that set off alarms and attract the horde. All the while, you are moving through immersive maps toward your campaign objective and come across some ..interesting..mutations that you have to deal with in special ways, as these zombies are more deadly than the regular brain-dead horde.
For example, the Hunter stalks its prey on the roof tops, can cling to sidewalls like Spiderman and will pounce on you when they think you’re weak and isolated unless one of your team mates shoots it dead out of the air.
Or, the Smoker – with its hallmark cough and elongated tongue that can strangle you off the side of a building unless your team rushes over to help. Boomers that explode, covering you in bile and attracting the horde, and Witches that will shred you to pieces and attract billions of the undead if you get their attention.
Aspects of this game can be truly terrifying and the gore is realistic- it’s not surprise that it has been banned in some countries.
Unique and immersive campaigns based around the backwoods and inner city of Philadelphia in the midst of the zombie outbreak.
A variety of different weapons – from melee to guns – health packs and pills for temporary health and vitality boosts.
Easter eggs throughout the game paying homage to classic zombie movies and other zombie games, such as Dead Rising
Play online with your friends in CO-op, play alone with bots, or play with friends at your house if you have a couple extra controllers. Play as both zombies and survivors!
Fear the Walking Dead has been an up-and-down experience from the very beginning, way back in 2015. After a promising start (those first few episodes, covering the first few days of the outbreak, still hold up surprisingly well), the series follows a single, troubled Los Angeles family in its flight from the walkers, its separation and reunion, and the introduction of some alternately fascinating and damn boring characers along the way. Yes, it went down some fairly murky and unsatisfying paths and, at the same time, brought in some strong and intriguing characters that have gone the distance, especially Morgan (Lennie James), recruited from the ‘parent’ series, The Walking Dead, and Jenna Elfman in a surprisingly successful dramatic turn. And after seven broadcast years, and far more than in TWD years, after the infamous “time jump” between Seasons 3 and 4, only Season 1's supermom Madison (Kim Dickens) and mysterious, dangerous barber-assassin Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) are here for the final days.
You can watch any or all of the first seven seasons here, on Hulu, and rent or buy all the released episodes of Season 8 here, on Amazon Prime.
Meanwhile, this is far from the end for the Walking Dead universe, with the series featuring the continuing adventures of Darrell and a visit to new walker-infested New York City for Negan and Maggie. And who knows what-all else?
OG Tough Guys andDumb But Cute Would-Be Thugs Fight the Undead
Movie / Outrbrea / Underrated
Cockneys vs. Zombies offers a truly ridiculous premise: a group of young Cockney toughs are simply trying to rob a bank, no big deal, when, bam, here comes the zombie apocalypse. They fight off the walkers with some understandable difficulty – I mean, there are not the sharpest bulbs in the basket -- but eventually, they get the job done – or they survive at least -- and somehow end up at an old folks’ home that’s populated by aging Cockney toughs from two generations back… and damn, can those old folks kick ass. It’s only a matter of minutes before the oldsters – the literal OG’s – are taking charge and beating back the horde of the hungry dead.
There’s absolutely no reason this should be as funny, engaging, and even exciting as it is. But it is. There’s a mad exuberance about old folks blasting away at the shamblers while the hapless younger generation barely keeps up. Much of it has to do with the performances of some great tough-type character actors from long ago – Alan Ford (who you will recognize immediately as playing the Cockney Tough guy since the 1960’s about 200 times -- Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, etc.) and Honor Blackman (yes, the GoldfingerBond Girl and The Avengers‘ Mrs. Peel before there was a Mrs. Peel), not to mention Harry Treadawayas the only young’un with half a brain. Treadaway went on to distinguish himself as Dr. Frankenstein inPenny Dreadful, as Brady Hartsfield inMr. Mercedes, and most recently as Narek in Picard.
You might have skipped this as another one of the Stripper vs. Zombies or Bigfoot vs Zombies low-budget throwaways, but in fact, this is a surprisingly well-made and just plain fun addition to your zombie collection. Or another great surprise for the zomfan who’s missed it for years.